Looking back at how Preet Bharara handled Albany culture in court
While a U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara aimed at some of most powerful politicians in Albany. But Thursday, a court threw out one of those cases, the 2015 corruption conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. State House Reporter Zack Fink has more on how the decision reflects Bharara's approach to the job.
Just a day after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested and charged with public corruption in 2015, U.S. Attorney of the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who was bringing the case, gave a talk at New York Law School, where he called on New Yorkers get behind his campaign against the political culture in Albany.
"If there was ever a time for New Yorkers to show their trademark impatience with the status quo and to show it loudly, I submit: now's a good time for that," Bharara said in January of 2015.
Just a few months later, the judge in the Silver case issued a sharp rebuke to what she called Bharara's "media blitz" following Silver's arrest. She went on to say the court was "troubled" by Bharara's remarks which "bundle together unproven allegations regarding the defendant with broader commentary on corruption."
With the overturning of Silver's conviction Thursday, critics are again asking whether Bharara's approach to the Silver case might have been overzealous.
"Voters were so frustrated that Albany wasn't doing the job of self-policing that they needed to be that we looked to the federal government to solve our problems, and we put all our eggs in one basket and clearly that is not the solution."
Watchdog groups maintain that Albany does need to be cleaned up, but it's incumbent upon the elected leaders to take action themselves by banning outside income, which was at the core of the Silver case. So far, state leaders have failed to address that issue.
"The biggest contributing factor to corruption in Albany is allowing our legislators to earn unlimited amounts of money connected to their positions," Dadey analyzed. "If we were to raise their salaries and also then limit the income they were allowed to earn outside, we would get rid of this corruption problem, for the most part, in a flash."
Insiders say it's a bit of a mixed legacy for Bharara. This is not the first time he has been overruled by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. In 2014, the appellate court struck down two high-profile convictions of insider trading cases that Bharara had prosecuted.